It takes more than locks to secure your home, think about security
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

A message from the Moorpark Police Crime Prevention

Those of us who work in law enforcement will tell you that if a thief really wants to get into your home, he probably will. However, there are some easy steps to make your house unattractive to the bad guy. We will call these techniques “Target Hardening”.

Lighting (The Crime Prevention Staple)

Bad Guys don't like to be seen, so install lights that will light up the outside of your home. Motion detecting fixtures work great. Remember to install them where they can't be reached or the bulb removed or broken. Placing a double light motion detector on all exterior corners of your home should sufficiently light your entire yard. Most double light motion detectors have directional light fixtures. Each light should be aimed down a side of your home allowing full-lighted coverage of your exterior walls. Remember to be courteous to your neighbors when aiming your lights.

Environmental Design

Plants and shrubs growing around your home can provide a great place for a burglar to lurk unseen. Keep your bushes trimmed so a burglar can't hide in them, out of sight. In crime prevention we call this the 2 and 6 concept. All shrubs should be trimmed at a maximum height of 2 feet and all tree skirts should be trimmed above 6 feet.

Don't advertise that there are things worth stealing in your home. If you get a new TV or computer, don't just put the box out by the curb on trash pick up day. This is like a billboard to the bad guys telling them you have a nice TV for them to steal. Break down the box or turn it inside out, so no one passing by will be able to make a shopping list of what is in your home.

Finally, make sure your home has a lived-in appearance while you are you are away. Plug interior lights and a radio into timers that turn on and off at different times so your house looks occupied. If you're going to be away for a while, make arrangements to have your grass cut, stop mail and newspaper deliveries, and have someone pick up those flyers that seemingly show up every day on your door and under your porch mat. Getting a neighbor to park a vehicle in your driveway also helps make it look like someone is there.

Locks and Doors

Entrance doors are obviously the easiest way to gain entry. In many homes, a hard swift kick on the front or back doors will literally drive the door right out of its frame and the thief can just walk in and help himself. Most homes are originally equipped with inexpensive spring latch locks. Upgrade your locks by installing dead bolt locks.

Good dead bolt locks have a "throw" (the metal bolt that sticks out when it’s locked), about an inch long that actually goes into the doorframe, not just into the light wooden casing around the door. Dead bolt locks are available at your local home store and they come with easy to follow installation instructions. If you're uncomfortable changing locks yourself, a good handyman can do it for you.

Upgrading locks are a great start, but don't forget the screws holding the lock and door hinges in place. The strike plate on your doorjamb and the hinges on your door are probably held in place with screws that are about 1" long - just long enough to fasten into the casing lumber. You can upgrade the strike plate with a much longer strike plate 10" or 12" and install it with 3" screws. These screws are long enough that they will go right through the door casing and into the 2 x4 or 2x6 framing lumber around your door. The longer strike plate will also accommodate 6 or 8 screws for fastening it. Remove the short screws fastening your hinges as well and replace them with the 3" screws, and your door will now be firmly fastened into the door frame. Kicking this combination out of its frame is almost impossible. Average cost per door is about $50.00.

Don't Forget Your Windows

Patio doors and sliding windows are relatively easy to get out of their frames. A thief could do it by just lifting it up out of the frame (works just as well from the outside as it does when you lift them out for cleaning from the inside). The way to fix this problem is to drive a few screws into the top track above where the door or window sits when it's closed. The trick is, don't drive the screws all the way in, leave the screw heads protruding about 1/4". The protruding heads make it impossible to lift the door or window up high enough to lift the bottom out of the frame when it's closed. You can still remove the door or window for cleaning by sliding it over to the open position (where there aren't any protruding screw heads) and just lift it out of the frame.

To prevent the door from being slid open is equally as easy to fix. You only need to do the old reliable idea of a "stick in the track" effectively blocks them from being slid open. Cut a piece of dowel (about 3/8" diameter) to fit into the track. When you're inside, you can easily pick up the dowel in the track, but its round shape makes it hard for someone to dislodge it from the outside. Paint the dowel to match your window frame and it will virtually be unnoticeable.
Double hung windows (up and down)
You can prevent these from being raised from the outside by drilling a small hole through both the window casing and the window frame and sliding a nail painted to match the window into the hole. This technique is simple, easy, and very effective.
Casement and Awning Windows
Securing these designs requires installation of locks specially designed to prevent these windows from being swung open. Locks are available that will either prevent the handle from being turned, or fasten the window to the frame. Again these locks are available at your home hardware store and are easy for a do-it-yourselfer to install.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that if you do everything suggested here that your home won’t ever get burglarized. However, following these suggestions will definitely make it more difficult for the bad guys to get into your home, and often that's enough to get them to try somewhere else.

The most Important Security Device of all

Good Neighbors are the key to successful community crime prevention. Get to know each other and look out for one another. Always report anything suspicious to the police. Here are your numbers: 9-1-1 for Emergency (Immediate assistance) and the business number 805-654-9511.